NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2016
Latest on the Lightning, NHL CBA talk, John Tavares, Brandon Saad, Martin Hanzal & more in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman walked back his recent speculation regarding winger Brandon Saad’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He think it’s premature to start the Saad trade watch, saying there’s zero evidence Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has the 24-year-old on the block. Friedman said he was simply curious because he was close to being a healthy scratch last week.
He also notes Saad’s old team, the Chicago Blackhawks, looked into reacquiring him last year. Talks didn’t go far because they couldn’t see a way of it happening.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets gave up a lot in players (notably center Artem Anisimov) and salary (six years, $36 million) to get Saad last year. I don’t believe they’re willing to move him out just to ease their cap crunch. He’s too important to their future.
Friedman’s colleague Eric Engels took to Twitter on Thursday reporting he’d heard Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal could be on the move soon. He also claims the Montreal Canadiens are among the interested clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal would be a good fit for the Habs, but the Coyotes asking price is reportedly a good young player who can help them right away. I don’t think the Canadiens have that type of player to spare that will tempt the Coyotes.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports if Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is sidelined for the remainder of the season by his knee injury, they’ll have about $8 million in salary-cap space to use if necessary via the trade market with Stamkos going on long-term injured reserve. They’ve been seeking a top-four right-handed defenseman. While they’re not pursuing anyone now, they could take a look at who’s available as the March 1 trade deadline nears.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone asked if this could lead to the Lightning trading goaltender Ben Bishop this season. If anything, this makes it easier for the Lightning to keep their goalie tandem intact for the remainder of the season. If they can afford to wait until the trade deadline, they could pick up a good rental player for a draft pick or prospect, rather than giving up someone like Bishop. Don’t forget, the Lightning have coped well in the past when Stamkos was on the shelf, so I daresay they won’t have much difficulty adjusting this time around.
Regarding the NHL’s offer to the NHLPA of extending the CBA by three years in exchange for Olympic participation in 2018, Darren Dreger said most NHL owners don’t support the proposal. Dreger said some were surprised by league commissioner Gary Bettman’s proposal. Bob McKenzie said the NHL also proposed the two Olympics, two World Cups and multiple Ryder Cup formats and taking NHL regular-season games in Europe or even Asia. LeBrun, however, spoke with a player who said the players want a cap on escrow and this could be the hill they’re ready to die on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Host James Duthie said this almost seems like CBA bargaining has already started. If the league is willing to consider capping escrow for the remainder of this agreement, then this proposal from the league could stand a chance. However, I think the league is hoping the players will be so keen to participate in the next two Olympics that they’ll accept high escrow clawbacks for three more years. As LeBrun suggests, the players probably won’t accept that.
NBC SPORTS: Citing a recent report from Newsday’s Arthur Staple claiming the New York Islanders are shopping hard for a forward, James O’Brien looked at some potential trade options. He noted Staples brought up Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, though his recent concussion probably squashes that talk. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Brandon Saad, but Staple isn’t certain Isles GM Garth Snow would trade within the division. O’Brien also mentions Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Arizona’s Radim Vrbata, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and Anaheim’s Andrew Cogliano.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure the Avs are that keen to part with Duchene even before his injury. I don’t see Saad going anywhere (see below). I also think the Coyotes prefer to retain Vrbata. Unless the Isles are willing to part with a top defenseman, I doubt the Leafs are interested in moving van Riemsdyk. Cogliano is a good checking line forward but he’s not going to help the Isles scoring. If the Isles are willing to put Mikhail Grabovski on LTIR to free up cap space for Kane’s $5.25 million cap hit through 2017-18, the Sabres might listen, though they also want a quality blueliner in return.